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Fredonia reviews planned budget in response to ConAgra closure

FREDONIA – Officials in the village of Fredonia took a closer look at their draft for a 2014-15 budget Monday during the workshop and regular meeting Monday in light of the announcement last week that ConAgra would close the food-processing facility known as Carriage House.

The village stands to lose about $1.5 million in revenues from the closure. Local leaders are scrambling to try and project spending for their next budget for the fiscal year without knowing when the Carriage House plant will be closed.

Mayor Stephen Keefe said Monday he would not be pinned down to a number of potential layoffs that the village would need to make. “I will say there will be cuts in every department,” he said.

Village Clerk Richard St. George said some employees may have to work in two or three departments in order to maintain their positions.

St. George said that projections are very difficult because they have not been told if there will be a gradual shut down in phases.

The cost of the cuts is even expected to impact clerical staff. St. George suggested that the village may save money by using a payroll service instead of having an employee in-house do the work.

At the workshop session, board members went through the wastewater treatment budget line by line. Losses in the accounts there are expected to reach $687,000 because of the closure. Cuts made at Monday’s session were just over $300,000.

Several positions in the wastewater treatment plant are expected to be cut and other jobs with the village will be affected as well, officials said.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Betsy Sly said she is trying to look at phasing out some revenues over time in hopes that the plant continues to operate.

Carriage House is also a large customer for the water treatment facility. Cuts to that department were not discussed Monday.

There were no comments from the public on the proposed budget. A public hearing was held prior to the regular meeting.

In other business, board members gave their unanimous backing for the fire department to apply for accounts with Medicare and Medicaid in preparation for billing for ambulance services. The fire department has not billed for the services in the past. A study is currently being planned to investigate potential revenue for being able to bill.